Philippe Jaroussky performs Handel’s Arias

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Arias from Imeneo, Riccardo Primo, Siroe, Serse, Radamisto, Flavio, Amadigi, Tolomeo, Giustino and Ezio
PERFORMER: Artaserse/Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)
CATALOGUE NO: 9029577445

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Directing his own ensemble Artaserse as well as singing, in his latest disc Philippe Jaroussky concentrates on Handel, and specifically on some of the composer’s lesser known operas. He also makes no bones about the fact that he transposes some of the arias – as Handel himself might well have done with a different singer taking the role; from both a practical and an artistic point of view, that makes perfect sense. There’s certainly plenty to enjoy in this generous selection of extracts. Jaroussky’s singing is vital and buoyant, combining a light expressive touch with a high degree of accuracy; there’s a sense of focus, too, in the ensemble’s instrumental playing.

Highlights include the expressive urgency of the scenes from Radamisto, though it’s sometimes at the expense of such fundamentals as legato, while the sheer extroversion of the Serse aria tends to compromise overall security. But there’s much to admire in the striking emotional gestures of the Siroe extract, the high definition of an aria from Flavio, the certainty of aim in a chunk of Tolomeo and in Jaroussky’s ability to inject high drama into a piece from Giustino: he may not be a perfect singer, but he’s always an engaging one. 

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George Hall